Review: Artist Point: Wilderness Lodge Resort
Walking through the rustic entrance of the Wilderness Lodge, through the courtesy of Disney magic and some clever staging, I was whisked away from the heat of a humid April evening and immediately immersed in the natural splendor of the Pacific Northwest. The open grandeur of the lobby gives rise to images and inherent comparisons to the vast openness of the American frontier and massive majesty of northwestern mountain ranges. And nestled within this arcadian backdrop and amid the soundtrack of the Magnificent Seven playing softly across the resort lies Artist Point, the lodge’s award-winning fine dining restaurant
From the start of my dining experience, a recurring theme seemed to emerge and take shape: balance and presentation.
As discerning and pricey as the gourmet menu may be, there is no pretentiousness in the atmosphere or ambiance as if the restaurant itself is unaware of its glory. It is classy yet homey, relaxed yet elegant as if you are dining on world class food in front of a campfire at the foot of some understated mountain. A beautiful balance.
It would be a crime to not bask in the romance of the panoramic views of the lodge’s grounds as one dines at Artist Point. For this reason, when my companion and I were seated at probably the one table with a completely obstructed view of the gorgeous grounds (complete with erupting geyser and magnificent falls), we asked if we could perhaps be relocated to a different table as the restaurant was only 50% occupied. Our hostess, Lisa, was happy to oblige and sat us where we had a perfect view of babbling brooks winding their way alongside stony, hidden pathways.
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Our server, Steven, was a delight and a definite asset to the meal and to Artist Point. Very accommodating and very service-oriented.
The menu boasts several wonderful dishes that take advantage of the “outdoorsy” feel: hearty selections such as veal chops, fish and strip steak but prepared in a gourmet, delicate manner. Again: balance.
To start we ordered the Portobello Soup and the Mixed Field Greens Salad. Truly magnificent. Both dishes were served so beautifully and with such gorgeous presentation, it seemed a shame to dig in. But so glad we did. The soup had a delicate smokey, fresh flavor and was garnished with roasted shitake mushrooms which added a delightful and unexpected crunch and texture to the light, creamy concoction. A masterpiece. Amazing flavor which was subtle yet completely satisfying.
The mixed green salad was incredibly creative and inventive and the flavors mixed so perfectly together that it was the definition of balance. The vinaigrette was lovely. Its lightly fruity (perhaps a raspberry base?) taste was offset perfectly by the smoky, pungent flavor of the bleu cheese pieces. The shaved pear and sunflower seeds blended splendidly to add even further texture and flavor to this refreshing salad. Two enthusiastic raves for these appetizers.
I ordered the Seared Pacific Swordfish for my entree, and my dining partner opted for the restaurant’s signature Cedar Plank-roasted King Salmon. Again, the presentation was gorgeous and rivaled the attractive colors and designs of the murals adorning the walls near our table and depicting quiet, natural scenes of the rugged frontier.
The swordfish was thick and as juicy as the tenderest of steaks. If tuna is chicken of the sea then this was the filet mignon of the sea. Alive with the most wonderful grilled flavor. It was enhanced by a delicious, lightly creamy lemon emulsion and served with meaty and plump black trumpet mushrooms. Incredible. The Salmon was a huge, plentiful piece of perfectly grilled fish made brilliant by the oak roasting. Flaky and moist, it had a beautiful texture, and its taste was awakened further with a spiced cider emulsion on which it was served.
Although quite full by these gourmet meals, we were tempted by Steven and his darn dessert menu. How could we resist the house specialty: a berry cobbler (a combination of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) served with house-made black raspberry ice cream. What a spectacular end to a spectacular meal! Chock full of berries so fresh it tasted like we had just handpicked them ourselves, the cobbler was warm, flaky and brimming with sweet delight. The ice cream was refreshing, sweet and milky and melted into all the nooks and crannies of the cobbler so that each bite was filled with all the delicious components of this top-notch dessert.
Perfect for a special occasion, Artist Point is a quiet gem – a top-notch, fine dining experience clothed in the relaxed, homey feel of the quiet splendor of the American frontier. Perhaps a little pricey but worth every penny.
Food: Gourmet food for the most discerning diner yet hearty and “comforting” enough for those who do not like to experiment with unfamiliar flavors
Atmosphere: Simple, quiet splendor. Relaxed yet elegant
Service: Professional and top-notch
Tips: Do not let the “western/frontier” attire of the staff fool you. Just because the staff is not in black tie doesn’t mean the menu is casual. Make a reservation for a special occasion. You won’t find better food in all of Disney or all of Orlando. Artist Point can rival any fine restaurant in town. The views are spectacular at sunset. After dinner, take a stroll around the pool and over to the docks and geyser. You will bask in that that “back to nature” feel.